In reviewing columns from the archives, I happened across one published 11 years ago that seems perhaps even more relevant today than it was back then.
I began by saying I'd reached the point of spontaneous combustion over the pervasive irresponsibility and disregard for integrity and honor in our nation, and that slanders and smears await those who are principle-minded and offer support for the fundamental values that provided the basis for our nation.
I noted that then-President Obama suggested America needs a new and refurbished declaration of our intentions and direction. "So I took his message to heart and prepared what can only be described as Mike's Declaration of Self-Evident Truths and Plain Ol' Common Sense."
The declaration read: "I, Mike Masterson, a middle-class, Ozarks-born nobody and legal citizen of Arkansas, find it self-evident that:
"Any nation that willingly surrenders its hard-fought constitutional standards to the preferences and political agendas of fallible and selfish human personalities is destined to suffer the harshest results.
"Any nation that accepts and supports the lowest functioning behaviors of a small segment of its population inevitably will lapse into decline. In that respect, any free nation of diligent and resourceful people that willingly sacrifices the majority of its productive potential to cater to the most unmotivated of its population cannot long maintain.
"Dire consequences result from financial irresponsibility by any individual or government, regardless of how compassionate or noble the intention behind that misspending.
"Any person who seeks and holds public office in a society of, by and for the people should clearly understand that he or she has a sacred obligation to always position the needs of the many far above self-interest.
"The most powerful and influential nation ever to arise on planet Earth did so with the blessings and assistance of the Divine Creator of all life and the resulting gifts of consciousness and creativity. To this eternal force that privileged nation owes undying allegiance and gratitude.
"Human life, arising in the image of its eternal creator, is a sacred gift that begins with the mystery of a divine initial spark that breathes rhythm into the clustered cells that form the human heart.
"A state or nation that does not revere a truthful, honorable and just society above all else is destined to fail and decay in direct proportion to its deviation from those qualities.
"Free people left to individually seek and attain their highest levels of productivity and accomplishment will determine the success of a nation rather than the degree to which a self-serving government oppresses, suppresses and stifles their potential.
"While all men are, indeed, created equal by the Divine Creator, some will develop as good, contributing and honorable people while others will shirk responsibility, adopt self-absorbed behavior and become drawn into evil.
"All public servants and governments that are less than honest in their dealings with others invariably lose the trust of those who know them. Once lost, trust is all but impossible to regain.
"Elected public servants who knowingly lie in office or otherwise abuse the trust and hopes of those who awarded them the power to rule must be willing to surrender their sacred position without exception.
"Pacifying and acquiescing to evil people and governments only emboldens the oppressors, handing them ever increasing power and control over the lawful; restricting the lawful from adequately protecting themselves from evildoers is, itself, evil.
"Losing balance in anything or any process or venture humans undertake can lead to an overloading of the extreme ends and a resulting downfall.
"The combination of ignorance, arrogance and power in any person cannot help but result in their descent into evil.
"Without collective selflessness and a willingness to forgo one's acknowledged rights when appropriate in favor of a higher need or demand, lacking a willingness to sacrifice individual favor--even life itself--for the benefit of the greater good, no nation can long endure.
"Good results for the majority can never derive from bad actions and selfish choices by elected leaders. False promises made to a trusting people for personal gain will lead to humiliation and loss.
"A nation that fails to ensure its sovereignty and ensure the legitimacy of its population will crumble from the weight of its failure.
"Nothing is more sacred to a person and more telling to others about the nature of his or her character than the reliability of their words.
"When a person or a government plants bitter weeds through its actions, it will harvest only bitter weeds.
"Finally, the mortal damage done to slothful citizens of a once-free nation will become most evident when their suffering children and grandchildren one day seek an explanation of what could ever have been more important than acting to ensure their liberty."
I find it quite remarkable and sad how little has happened to change that declaration after more than a decade. Why, I'm even feeling darn near prescient this morning.
Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly how you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.